Well, I guess it beats dissecting Pitt’s loss this afternoon in basketball. Sort of.
This has apparently reached “buzz worthy” status. That Pitt is heading to the Big Numerically Challenged Conference in the Midwest. It sure seems to have jumped beyond mere message board discussion. Lots of rumors. To the point where newspapers, while not directly reporting it in print, are into discussing the possible ramifications, and blogging it.
Speculation is heating up all over the Internet that Pitt has accepted an offer to join the Big Ten Conference.
Here is what popped up on Bleacherreport.com, normally a pretty reliable outlet, just a few hours ago:
“According to several reports, including personal statements by student athletes on Twitter, Pittsburgh athletic department officials held closed door meetings with all of the University’s student athletes last week about the potential move.
Pitt message boards lit up with the news and the validity of the rumor, and though not verified by the University or the Big East or Big Ten, the rumor was somewhat reinforced when those Pitt athletes who posted about the meeting on their Twitter accounts were forced to remove the posts.”
Ahhhhhh. At the risk of sounding elitist… Oh, what the hell, Bleacherreport.com? That’s the source available?
I don’t know, that, well. Yeesh.
Well first, there’s the extreme unlikelihood that the Big Ten Council of Presidents would act so quickly, little more than a month into an evaluation process tabbed to take a year to a year and a half. Still, it is possible that COP had Pittsburgh — and its complimentary academic pedigree — in mind from the start. With its top tier national rank (56th) and Association of American Universities affiliation, Pitt is a fair congener on paper. Additionally, some commentators have suggested that a quick-strike could be designed to meet scheduling deadlines to get a Big Ten Championship Game in place by 2012.
Still, for a conference that has only added three members in the past century, an impulse buy is more than out of character. Plus, it’s not clear how the addition of Pitt by itself furthers conference exposure. (Penn State already brings Pittsburgh — the 23rd largest television audience in the United States — to the table).
The nail in the coffin of this rumor for me, is that the Big East appears totally in the dark. The Big Ten made it more than clear when it announced plans to explore expansion that it would contact a prospective target’s conference before approaching an individual school. Evan if the Big East is playing it cool, it seems far fetched that the Big Ten would have had the time to work through what OSU President Gordon Gee calls a “quiet kabuki dance” with a number of suitors at the gate.
A friend of mine totally gung-ho over the possibility disagrees and posits this:
I’ve always thought that the 12-18 month timeframe for a study was just a smoke screen to begin with, to give the impression that this was not as desperate of a grab as what the ACC did. My thinking is that the Big Ten likely had preliminary discussions already begun with the target school before they went public with expansion. Anything else would have been risking national humiliation.
I’m skeptical of this since the Big 11 made a show of how they would do things above the board and did not want to be perceived as staging a stealth raid like the ACC. Maybe that’s silly, but the Big 11 loves being seen as a blue-blood-like conference. Dignified and steeped in tradition.
I won’t prentend I haven’t heard some rumors, and gotten e-mails asking what I know.
Frankly, I really don’t know anything. I don’t claim sources, and I doubt the people I do know would know — or tell me.
The alleged announce date is supposed to be Friday — after NLI day for college football. I guess we’ll all learn something or nothing then.